Over the weekend, Judith Warner published a New York Times book review piece about The Conflict, the book by a French philosopher that lashes out against attachment parenting. Warner compares it with Madeleine M. Kunin’s latest book, “The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family.” (See our post Time Magazine’s Breastfeeding Cover: Give It A Rest Already).
The Conflict is ultimately harmful in setting up a false dichotomy for women, Warner says – it’s either care for yourself or care for your family. Then, she comes out in favor of a more nuanced view, saying that “a life combining both nurturing and providing for family is not only the most satisfying, but also the most traditionally natural for mothers.” (She sources the idea to evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy).
Kunin’s book is a decidedly practical look at the way the working world needs to adapt to women’s dual role. Advocating for family leave and sick days is nothing new, though it is always shocking to read how behind U.S. corporations are when it comes to these policies.
“Despite the fact that only about 20 percent of American families with children under age 15 are now constructed along the old model of a working father and a stay-at-home mother, the United States is virtually alone in the world — or, more precisely, it’s in the exclusive company of Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland — in not guaranteeing any form of paid leave for families with newborns,” Warner reports.
Her most compelling paragraph comes at the end, when she asks this question:
“How do you get today’s moms, and all their equally overtaxed potential allies, to show up for a revolution? Perhaps we need a 21st-century Gloria Steinem, a multitasking, minivan-driving, media-savvy soccer mom (or dad) with just enough of a hint of glamour to make protest as appealing a prospect as Girls’ Night Out.”